As a follow-on from last week's intro into the degree of control/ integration that 3rd-party apps can and can't have using Evernote's open API, this post skims the surface of how the Swipes app can do what many people have been asking Evernote for: the ability to extract checkbox items within notes account-wide to a dedicated task-management interface. That wish list also included the ability to reorder tasks with checkboxes arbitrarily within a list. Swipes has got you covered on both counts. You'll find Swipes on iOS, Android and Web.
Of course, you could directly search your Evernote account for notes that have checkbox items in whatever context you're in - whether in "All Notes", a stack, notebook, tag context, etc. Here is the search syntax:
- todo:* - All notes with checkboxes
- todo:false - All notes with unchecked checkboxes
- todo:true - All notes which have checked checkboxes
However, as already mentioned, for those who are into simple lists with checkboxes, Evernote does not allow for much wiggle room in the way of easily reshuffling them around within a note as well as grouping them together on one interface. On the other hand, the Swipes app drills into your notes to harvest the checkbox items therein - No more, no less. You can then group those tasks together in any arbitrary order you wish within Swipes.
Once you've connected the Swipes app to your Evernote account, there are a few ways to skin this cat and sync your tasks to Evernote:
- Through the "Integration" section, you have a couple of options:
- You can open the Evernote Importer and import individual notes of your choice.
- You can activate an option to auto import any notes in your account with the "Swipes" tag. I like this option.
- You can create a new task and from within the task interface itself, import the checkboxes from any Evernote note(s).
In each of the above cases, Swipes takes the checkboxed tasks from each note and creates subtasks, which they call "action steps" within one main task in Swipes. At the top level, one simply has tasks in Swipes and one cannot categorize further, apart from reordering your list... so the grouping together of discrete task categories needs to be according to what is contained in an Evernote note...
With this in mind, the note titles in Evernote become our Kanban stages in Swipes, each containing their subtasks/ action steps (checkboxes within a note). You will notice below that to recreate our kanban sections in Swipes, one can create a new task which simply serves as a placeholder for the Backlogged, Today, and Calendar sections - and from there, you would group your stages under each of the 3 sections, which you will see in the video clip a little further down. The "Today" section is pictured below.
When you tap on any task in Swipes, it will show you a list of its action steps therein. If you slide an action step to complete it, it will be checked off in the corresponding Evernote note too. It's a reciprocal thing: What you check off or create in one app will sync and affect a change in the other. However, in Swipes, if you delete any task or action step, it will not delete its contemporary in Evernote. One cannot delete an Evernote checkbox task through Swipes - only modify it. Which is a good thing, considering that often a checkbox may be part of a larger context within an Evernote note, which may contain other relevant information besides checkbox items. Another thing one can do in Swipes is reorder your action steps by dragging and dropping, which in an Evernote note can only be achieved through a cut-and-paste method.
In the videos for the remainder of this Evernote series, you'll be "treated" to a couple of random scores from some of Charlie Chaplin's silent films, since for the sake of brevity, I will not be assaulting you with any geeky media beyond Star Trek's Borg reference (in the Intro). This particular score comes from "Modern Times" (1936).
As in previous posts, I'll quickly run you through the Backlogged, Today and Calendar sections and show you a sync on Evernote, just to get the feel of what the app offers. As the name suggests, Swipes allows you to swipe tasks to complete them. Dragging and dropping is a cinch and allows you to arrange tasks in any order.
A few Caveats
(Always wanted to use this word. Look at me now!)
As far as moving tasks (action steps) between our Kanban stages in Swipes, it's a cut-and-paste affair.
If you chose to, you could create an entire kanban section within a sublist, using placeholder tasks/ action steps for each stage - and in so doing, you would be able to drag and drop within the context of a single Kanban Calendar section, without the need to cut and paste. One would still have to cut and paste to transfer from, say, the Backlogged section to the Today section.
Tasks/ action steps deleted or moved in Swipes do not get moved or deleted in EN (only checked-off tasks are mirrored both ways) - which is understandable, because one would not want some elements inadvertently moved/ deleted within the context of a document being worked on.
New tasks (in our case kanban sections) created in Swipes on the main interface (not action steps) do not show in Evernote.
Even if you do not subscribe to the use of Swipes as a fully-integrated task-management solution, it can be a very useful tool, especially insofar as helping to get random and account-wide checkboxed items in Evernote under control. It may be a good transition tool to round up those free radicals spread throughout your account and phase in to another system of your choice.